Tuesday, January 29, 2008

My Sister

It just dawned on me that I don't really talk much about my family here in blogland, but that doesn't mean that I don't love those crazy mainlanders. I went home for my sister, Julie's wedding last summer and caught up on four and a half years worth of stories.

Growing up, I've always been closest with Julie and I think it all started when I gave her a talk the summer before she went to Aurora Middle School. At that time I was already a couple of years through Lancaster High School on 1 Forton Drive and I decided to impart some of my "wisdom" to her.

I remember leading in with something like, "I know I really haven't done a lot of older brother things before, but I think I have a few things that are going to help you this year."

I don't remember the whole thing verbatim, but the basic gist was about how things were going to change at the next level when kids from all of the other elementary schools meet up for the first day of seventh grade.

I told her that things would be changing a lot more when she moved up into high school and that she will be faced with a lot of choices. I told her about alcohol, drugs, cliques, and temptation.

While I kind of gave her a list of what to look out for, I told her that she could feel free to talk to me about anything at anytime without having to worry about me running and telling Mom and Dad.

It was one of my prouder moments as an older brother.

(I would have done the same with my younger brother Scott, but he always had his stuff together and I didn't think he would be interested in hearing it. He was always a little cooler than me, but maybe I should've tried anyway.)

Anyway, fast forward a decade and a half later and look at what my sister is doing now! I'm so happy that all of her hard work and dedication has paid off.

If you ever get to meet my sister, she'll probably leave you laughing. She's freakin' hilarious, and her positive outlook to just about everything might just inspire you as well.

Here's the article from today's Buffalo News that features my sister, the hockey playing mother of a nine-year-old who is the leading scorer of the Buffalo State College women's team.


Love you, Sis.

Hockey mom
Ruszala scores with support of family
Updated: 01/29/08 6:52 AM

If there were any doubt Julie Ruszala would fit in on the Buffalo State women’s hockey team, it was quickly erased during preseason training.

The 30-year-old Lancaster native had decided to give college hockey a try after playing for the senior women’s team in the Buffalo Saints organization and enrolling in college full-time to finish her bachelor’s degree.

How would a 30-year-old stack up against a room full of 18- to 21- year-olds? Pretty darn good when the results of those preseason conditioning tests came in.

Ruszala led the team in three of the eight fitness testing categories.

“There are a lot of players that come in essentially as walk-ons and during preseason conditioning they’re on the bubble,” said secondyear head coach Rob Burke. “After her testing scores came in there was no question she was making the team.”

“It was just an opportunity that I thought was a once-in-a-lifetime chance,” Ruszala said. “I thought I’d try it. I love it but being on the ice every day, I’ve never had that opportunity before so I’ve worked on being mentally prepared.”

And while her life may be different from her teammates — what with being a wife and mother of a 9-year-old son — her athletic ability immediately caught the attention of those around her.

“The younger girls come in and they see this 30-year-old woman kicking their butts,” said Jamie Overbeck, an assistant coach one year removed from playing for Buffalo State. “I think it opened up a lot of players’ eyes to how hard they have to work.”

Ruszala impresses onlookers most with her work ethic and focus.

“She’s not the prettiest skater,” Burke said. “She isn’t the smoothest skater and doesn’t have the best hands but she works so hard every single shift. Her work makes up for anything else she might lack. She literally scored a goal from her stomach this year. She never gives up on a play or a shift.”

Her attitude and work ethic have her leading the Bengals (5-7-3 overall, 3-7-2 in conference) in scoring. With five goals and three assists, she’s two points ahead of runners-up Mariah Fairgrieve — an 18-year-old freshman — and senior Sam Simpson. She got her fourth and fifth goals, the last one the game-winner, Saturday at Chatham.

“She has such a positive attitude,” Simpson said. “She’s a hard worker, that’s for sure. She just has this never-give-up attitude and she’s in the best shape of anyone on our team.”

Still, that doesn’t make Ruszala immune from some good-natured ribbing. Her teammates gave her the “team mom” moniker and occasionally ask her to put her hearing aid in.

“At first it was kind of hard,” Ruszala said laughing. “I think we appreciate each other for what we are. They call me the team mom. I bring oranges and they always ask me for things and I always have everything, like Band-Aids. We just have appreciation for each other now and I think that has something to do with us coming together.”

The Bengals may be jelling just in time for an ECAC West playoff run (they hold the sixth and final spot to qualify for the tournament heading into Friday’s home game against division-leading Plattsburgh) but the concept of “coming together as team” has an entirely different connotation in Ruszala’s life.

Her team also includes a strong support network, starting with her husband, Doug, and son, Cabe, who offer her encouragement and time to pursue the opportunity of playing collegiately.

Ruszala was working as an X-ray technician but always knew she wanted to return to school to complete her bachelor’s degree. She became a fulltime student at Buffalo State last year, majoring in health and wellness, and will graduate in May.

She approached Burke about trying out. He understood the situation as he too was a “non-traditional student” when he played hockey at Fredonia as a 26-year-old freshman.

“I knew the opportunity she had, and I didn’t want her to have any regrets.” Burke said. “I didn’t want her to leave Buff State thinking what-ifs.”

So Ruszala discussed it with her family. Since she was on schedule to graduate in May and it would be only a one-year deal (though she has three more years of college eligibility), her “home team” supported her decision to play. That means Doug spends time taking care of the home front most days and driving Cade to his hockey practice with the Depew Saints.

“I said she should go for it,” Doug said. “As long as she enjoys what she’s doing. It’s really such a once-in-a-lifetime type of opportunity. I didn’t want her to miss it. We knew it would be a bit of a constraint at home, but it’s just for one year. . . . And it’s good for [Cade] to see her play. He gets to see what college and playing in college is all about.”

“He’s very understanding that I’m here doing this,” Ruszala said of her son. “But my husband helps as does the rest of the family — grandparents, aunts and uncles. Even his friends help out. I wouldn’t be here without my support network.”

For Burke, it’s a bit bittersweet. He would love to have Ruszala longer but is glad to have her in his program for the season.

“I know we’re going to be referencing Julie for years to come,” Burke said. “She’s just a person who is very focused and works hard. When you think of getting the whole picture of what it means to be a student-athlete, she’s it.”

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Japanese people slay me

Think our game shows are good? Think again! Watch this clip from a Japanese game show that was shot in a library. Sure, the library patrons are probably plants, but the games' participants are freakin' hilarious. Who thinks of this kind of stuff, anyway?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Most Terrifying Video You'll Ever See

Have you heard about that science teacher from Oregon who has been spreading the word on Global Climate Change? His name is Greg Craven and he has a pretty good way for us to stave off apathy work for a change.

I haven't hugged a tree but I think this series requires a look. There's tons of this stuff on YouTube but it's kind of a pain in the ass to follow it all.

Good News!

I've put them all here, and in order too! So get your popcorn and get ready to save the world. Warning!!!! These things will take a while to watch so you might want to split it up over a couple of days.


And away we go...

How It All Ends




Nature of Science

Risk Management

Why There Is Still Debate

The Manpollo Project

Mechanics of GCC

Scare Tactics

The Solution

God's Will

Get What You Want

I Hope I'm Wrong

No Holds Barred

Your Mission